World Cancer Day: 10 symptoms people should not ignore

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By Puja Gupta

New Delhi– Cancer is an unnatural growth of cells that wrecks the healthy environment of the body. The complications associated with it is not because of the disease, but due to the delayed diagnosis as the symptoms are mostly unclear at times.

India has recorded a 333 per cent increase in online consultations with oncologists between January and December 2020, as per Practo’s latest insights report. Of the total online consultations, 40 per cent came from non-metro cities while 60 per cent from metro cities. Non-metros recorded a steep 932 per cent increase in the number of online consultations, while the metro cities grew by 410 per cent.

The findings indicated increased awareness about the disease and improved access to cancer specialists online, especially in non-metro cities – from 5 per cent in 2018 and 20 per cent in 2019 to 40 per cent in 2020.

Meanwhile, a new observation was made in 2020 – the top searched queries were different in different parts of the country. People in non-metro cities enquired more about types of cancer such as bladder, thyroid, ovaries, and anal. In metro cities, on the other hand, the majority of queries revolved around more common types of cancer (like blood, breast, cervical, and oral).

On World Cancer Day marked across the globe on February 4 every year, Oncologist at Practo shares a list of commonly ignored symptoms, which could be warning signs of cancer. Cancers are painless when they start and so they get ignored by the patient and doctors alike.

Anaemia: Tiredness in cancer is usually due anaemia (lack of blood) and deficiency of nutrition. The cancer drains most of nutrients from the body in its race to grow rapidly. Also there is bleeding from cancer tissue that makes one anaemic.

Blood while passing stool: Very often, this is due to piles or similar causes. However, colon cancer and rectum cancer can also cause this. If a person happens to find blood in stool, it is wise to do colonoscopy to look inside of the colon. Cancer of colon can cause change in bowel habit (like alternating constipation and diarrhoea)

Blood in urine: This always requires further tests. Cancer of the kidney or urinary bladder or prostate can result in blood in urine. The worst part is this bleeding can be irregular. This infrequency makes patients ignore this symptom. Even one episode of blood in urine needs through examination.

Bleeding in between periods (women): Any bleeding that does not follow the usual pattern of menstrual period is a warning sign. Cancer of the uterus or cervix can cause these kinds of symptoms. Patients with cervical cancer also bleed after sexual intercourse.

A patch or wound inside mouth: Oral or mouth cancers are common in India. These cancers start as a patch or wound and progress over months. If diagnosed early they can be treated effectively.

Lump or swelling: Cancers of breast and limb begin as painless lumps or swellings and progress over months. Any newly appearing lumps or swellings should be thoroughly examined.

Loss of weight without trying: A sudden weight loss when you are not dieting needs investigations. As cancer consumes most of the nutrition that you take, you tend to lose it.

Loss of appetite and bloating food: This could be because of obstruction to bowel or because of a cancer secreting its toxic substances. Thorough examination is needed to reach a diagnosis.

Lymph node enlargement: Lymph nodes are present everywhere in the body and function as filters. Most of the time they enlarge due to infections. The cancer cells also get filtered in these nodes and are trapped. They grow in these nodes and the nodes enlarge because of this growth.

Trouble swallowing or vomiting after taking food are both warning signs of a cancer in the digestive tract. These need to be evaluated with endoscopic tests to identify the cause. Some patients have only persistent heartburns which are misdiagnosed as gastritis and treated only for months before correct diagnosis reveals itself.

Pain is the last feature of cancer. Do not wait for it. (IANS)

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